Results tagged ‘ Alex Rodriguez ’

Digging in for the new year

I need to pack up the ornaments and stow the Christmas tree away for another year; space is, as always, at a premium when you live in New York City. This is a long way of saying that I know we’ve got some catching up to do, closing the book on the holidays and trying my best to stop writing 2013 on all of my checks.

Here’s what’s cooking:

Hall Calls

We’ll have new Hall of Famers to celebrate this afternoon at 2 p.m. ET, but I wouldn’t expect any of them to be wearing Yankees caps in Cooperstown. Mike Mussina has a strong case and I think that he’ll eventually get in, as voters consider the fact that he won 270 games while pitching in the American League East in a performance-enhanced era of slugging. All that time, his strongest supplements seemed to be either Mountain Dew or something covered in chewy nougat.

There’s plenty of analysis of his pitching career in the link I posted, so let me just share an anecdote here. Remember when Joe Girardi tried to ban sweets from the clubhouse in 2008? No one howled louder, or more often, than the Moose. I remember him sneaking in a few Krispy Kreme doughnuts and devouring them at his Yankee Stadium locker with satisfaction, something that still makes me laugh to this day. I believe the voters will eventually come around on Mussina, but not on the first ballot.

Don Mattingly got a contract extension with the Dodgers, but isn’t expecting a call this afternoon. Roger Clemens has said, quite accurately, that everything from here on is out of his control.

Who’s on third? I don’t know.

No, really. I don’t know. If we time-warped to April right now, I suppose the Yankees would have to go with Kelly Johnson at third base, but that’s a depth chart that still looks very much incomplete. They’d like to find someone to platoon with Johnson, and Mark Reynolds would make a lot of sense for that (Michael Young, I suppose, but less so). That market seems to have been slow-moving. I don’t expect Alex Rodriguez’s suspension to be completely thrown out by independent arbitrator Fredric Horowitz, not with the fireworks of last month, but I also wouldn’t be surprised to see it be knocked down from 211 games to a lower number. That announcement could come any day now.

Gardner scores a Thurman

Brett Gardner is among those who will be receiving Thurman Munson Awards on Feb. 4 in New York; former Yankees David Cone and Jim Kaat are also on the list. In this awards and dinner season, you’ll also want to consider attending the New York BBWAA dinner on Jan. 25.

Talkin’ Tanaka

In case you missed it, former Yankees pitcher Darrell Rasner spoke to WFAN’s Sweeny Murti this week about his experiences pitching with Masahiro Tanaka. The Q&A is definitely worth your time. You can expect the Tanaka sweepstakes to heat up very soon, though I suspect the bidding might go all the way down to the Jan. 24 deadline.

I never knew I needed to have an 1989 Topps Jake Taylor card, but I do.

And a friendly reminder, as I stare out the window and consider if it’s worth upgrading to a North Face jacket: Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on Feb. 14.

A-Rod storms out of hearing, denies performance-enhancing drug use

Alex RodriguezThere is no going back: Alex Rodriguez has given his statement, on the record. Rodriguez claimed on Wednesday that he is completely innocent of using performance-enhancing drugs, as well as every other allegation that led to Major League Baseball hitting him with an unprecedented 211-game suspension back in August.

Rodriguez’s denials did not come under oath, but instead in the court of public opinion in WFAN’s New York studios. Rodriguez parachuted in for a surprise appearance with host Mike Francesa that lasted nearly 40 minutes, with Rodriguez stating that he “shouldn’t even serve one inning” of a suspension.

The appearance came after Rodriguez stormed out of the hearing room in midtown, slamming a table and kicking a briefcase in a furious response after arbitrator Fredric Horowitz refused to order Commissioner Bud Selig to testify in Rodriguez’s hearing.

“I’m done. I don’t have a chance,” Rodriguez said on WFAN.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Major League Baseball explained why Selig was not called to testify:

“In the entire history of the Joint Drug Agreement, the commissioner has not testified in a single case. Major League Baseball has the burden of proof in this matter,” the statement read. “MLB selected Rob Manfred as its witness to explain the penalty imposed in this case. Mr. Rodriguez and the Players Association have no right to dictate how Baseball’s case is to proceed any more than Baseball has the right to dictate how their case proceeds. Today’s antics are an obvious attempt to justify Mr. Rodriguez’s continuing refusal to testify under oath.”

Rodriguez was accompanied in WFAN’s studios by attorney Jim McCarroll, who said that Rodriguez will not testify unless Selig does. Rodriguez also released a statement through his representatives, saying that he would no longer participate.

“I am disgusted with this abusive process, designed to ensure that the player fails,” Rodriguez said. “I have sat through 10 days of testimony by felons and liars, sitting quietly through every minute, trying to respect the league and the process. This morning, after Bud Selig refused to come in and testify about his rationale for the unprecedented and totally baseless punishment he hit me with, the arbitrator selected by MLB and the Players Association refused to order Selig to come in and face me. The absurdity and injustice just became too much. I walked out and will not participate any further in this farce.”

In the Francesa interview, Rodriguez repeatedly said “I did nothing,” denying that he used steroids or performance-enhancing drugs supplied by Anthony Bosch or the Biogenesis clinic. Rodriguez briefly discussed his relationship with Bosch during the WFAN interview.

“It was nutrition and it was weight loss,” Rodriguez said. “And Bosch wasn’t the only guy. I traveled the world to see doctors, cutting-edge stuff, but always between the parameters of Major League Baseball. And I have hundreds of e-mails that will be part of evidence, which I can’t get into, that backs me up 100 percent.”

In response to a question from Francesa, Rodriguez acknowledged that he is “angry” at the Yankees, but said that he has a responsibility to the team and does not believe he would have any issues fitting back into the clubhouse.

“I feel like I should be there Opening Day,” Rodriguez said.

In a brief aside, Rodriguez also denied that he gave a signed baseball to two female fans during the 2012 American League Championship Series, as was widely reported. Rodriguez said that if he had done so, it certainly would have been captured by one of the many television cameras perched around Yankee Stadium.

The Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement following Rodriguez’s exit from the hearing room, disagreeing with Horowitz’s decision to excuse Selig from testifying.

“The MLBPA believes that every player has the right under our arbitration process to directly confront his accuser. We argued strenuously to the arbitrator in Alex’s case that the commissioner should be required to appear and testify. While we respectfully disagree with the arbitrator’s ruling, we will abide by it as we continue to vigorously challenge Alex’s suspension within the context of this hearing,” the statement read.

Another of Rodriguez’s lawyers, Joseph Tacopina, appeared on ESPN Radio and told host Michael Kay that further litigation may be in the future. Rodriguez has already sued MLB and Selig in state court, as well as a lawsuit against Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad that alleges medical malpractice.

Rodriguez said during the WFAN interview that he is so upset at the situation that “right now, I can’t even think straight.” Rodriguez said that he would return home to spend time with his daughters. The hearing is scheduled to resume on Thursday without Rodriguez’s presence.

A-Rod on suspension appeal: “Let’s get it on”

HOUSTON — Alex Rodriguez said that he is “excited” to begin his appeal of the 211-game performance-enhancing drug suspension levied in August by Major League Baseball.

Rodriguez said that he to be present for each day of the proceedings at MLB’s offices in New York, and expects the appeal process to take five days.

“This has been a burden; a big burden. Let’s get it on,” Rodriguez said. “It starts on Monday. Better to face it head on.”

Rodriguez is not expected to play this weekend against the Astros. He will complete the season batting .244 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs in 44 games, and now can turn his attention to his battle with MLB.

“I’ll be there every day,” Rodriguez said. “I’m fighting for my life and my whole legacy. I should be there. I hope everyone’s there.”

Quick hits: A-Rod batting second for Yanks

greetings-from-baltimore-marylandHere are the early notes as the Yankees (76-67) and Orioles (76-66) get set to kick off a four-game series here at Camden Yards. CC Sabathia (13-11) has the ball for New York, while the Orioles counter with Chris Tillman (15-5, 3.71). It’s a nice September night here in the Inner Harbor, temperatures in the 70s and – somehow – low humidity. That won’t last all week, so let’s enjoy it while we can.

Curtis Granderson, Alex RodriguezAlex Rodriguez is hitting second tonight, the first time he has done so since Aug. 26, 2006, when Joe Torre tried him there in a 12-7 loss to the Angels.  Joe Girardi said that since Alfonso Soriano has been productive hitting behind Robinson Cano, he wanted to keep that alignment intact.

“[Rodriguez has] done a really good job of getting on base against right-handers and swinging the bat well against right-handers,” Girardi said. “I’m trying to break up our left-handed hitters.”

Hey, was that Derek Jeter? It was — briefly. Jeter stepped out of the trainer’s room for only a moment, and did not return the rest of the time that reporters were allowed in the clubhouse. Jeter hasn’t spoken publicly since he left Saturday’s game to have a CT scan performed.

Girardi said that he wanted to keep Jeter from doing any baseball activity on Monday, but added that Jeter could be pressed into duty on his sore ankle if anything happened to shortstop Eduardo Nunez.

“I might use him in an emergency if I had to use him tonight,” Girardi said. “That’s kind of the situation we’re in. It’s not like I have a number of shortstops lying around.”

Where have you gone, Reid Brignac? Oh, right.

The team forwarded Jeter’s CT scan results to Dr. Robert Anderson – who performed Jeter’s ankle surgery last October – but Brian Cashman said that Anderson has not yet responded with his diagnosis. Cashman added that there has been no consideration given to the idea of shutting Jeter down for the rest of the 2013 season.

“No, no, no, no,” Cashman said.

David Robertson was scheduled to play catch on Monday, testing his right arm after he was diagnosed with shoulder inflammation last week. He’s considered ahead of Boone Logan, who had a a cortisone injection administered over the weekend. Girardi seemed to be doubtful that Logan would be available until Friday against the Red Sox, but they’re hopeful Robertson could pitch in the Orioles series.

Chris Stewart is “probably not” available to play, according to Girardi. Stewart sustained a left foot contusion when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning of Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

Left-hander David Huff continues to be listed as the Yankees’ probable starter on Thursday against the Orioles, though that seems less than a certainty after Huff allowed nine runs in 3 1/3 innings to the Red Sox on Saturday.

“We’re going to get through these three days and see where we’re at,” Girardi said. “I’m not saying I’m changing anything, but if we need Huff [in relief], we need Huff.”

Phil Hughes, who lost his rotation slot to Huff, could be reinstated to starting duty under that scenario.

Cashman’s state of the Yankees: “Well, I certainly don’t like where we’re sitting because you want to be in the driver’s seat and we’re not in the driver’s seat, But I know we’re going to fight and give it everything we’ve got, as simple as that.

“We’ve been fighting for this thing all year long and they’ve put themselves in a position to kind of see a line that crossable. But we’re all bunched together here, so this is a big series. It’s the obvious thing to say but it’s true.

“We’ve caught enough breaks this year. Like anything else, every time someone has a problem it gives an opportunity to either take advantage or not. It’s hard to find anything at this time of year now.”

My Beat The Streak pick today: I’d better start doubling down if we’re going to make this streak respectable — forget matching Joe D., I can’t even get to Wee Willie Keeler with just 19 games left. So let’s make two picks tonight: A-Rod (4-for-7 lifetime vs. Tillman) and Cano (11-for-22 lifetime vs. Tillman). The streak is at one after Ichiro Suzuki had two hits in yesterday’s win.

Yanks trust Nova to kick off pivotal Sox series

Ivan NovaIt’s the beginning of an 11-game obstacle course that could very well determine if the Yankees have a chance at the postseason or not. Is this the most important stretch of the season? Sure feels like it.

Here are the early notes as the Yankees (75-64) and Red Sox (84-57) prepare to meet here at Yankee Stadium, with right-handers Ivan Nova and Jake Peavy matching up for the 7:05 p.m. ET start:

Who would the Yankees rather have on the mound than Nova, the reigning American League Pitcher of the Month? Nova went undefeated in six August starts, going 4-0 with a 2.08 ERA, and now he’ll look to continue that success into September.

“When you’re throwing the baseball like he is, you probably should feel some confidence out there,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s getting his strikeouts when he needs them, he’s getting a lot of ground ball outs, and that’s important in a park like this when you’re playing a team like this.”

Asked to expand on what Nova is doing differently than he was last season, Girardi responded:

“He learned to command his fastball down in the zone. Not worrying so much about hitting corners, but just having it down in the zone with movement. I think that has been really, really important to him. I also think the consistency of his curveball came back when he started throwing it a lot more, and he’s thrown his changeup a little bit as well. Maybe not 20 percent of the time or 30 percent of the time, but he has thrown it and gotten strikes, and it’s just another look when you’re going through a lineup the second, third or fourth time.”

The Yankees have been saying for days that they do not expect there to be any carryover from the last time these two clubs met, when right-hander Ryan Dempster earned a five-game suspension by intentionally throwing at Alex Rodriguez.

Those Sunday night events fired up the Yankees, who have gone 12-5 since the drilling. Yet for those expecting Nova to throw at David Ortiz or something along those lines, there might be disappointment. These games are so important to the Yankees that winning will likely be the main priority.

“No. We’re not looking to [retaliate],” Robinson Cano said. “We’re just going to go out there [tonight], play the game the right way that we have always been, and what’s in the past we’re going to keep in the past.”

OK. OK. What else would you have expected him to say? Stay tuned, but it doesn’t sound like Major League Baseball or the umpires plan on getting involved pre-game.

A few injury updates to pass along: Zoilo Almonte (ankle) is playing seven innings tonight for Double-A Trenton in their playoff game and is the most likely player to rejoin the big league club this month. Travis Hafner has done one simulated game, while Kevin Youkilis is only taking dry swings and is “the least probable” of the aforementioned three players to return in 2013.

Also, David Phelps and Michael Pineda are up to the bullpen stage, but it doesn’t sound like either one is coming back this year. Phelps might be back as a reliever in late September but that’s sounding more like a long shot, and the Yankees have been pretty mum on Pineda’s progress.

One last thought from Girardi:

“The big thing is you have to continue to play well. And as you look at it, we have a chance to control our own destiny, because we’re really three behind them in the loss column, and we have three games with. We have to play well. That’s the bottom line. So I don’t think you can get too caught up in what they’re doing, because there are other teams that are around us as well.”

My Beat The Streak pick tonight: Robinson Cano, who gets the honors for a second straight night after he went 3-for-4 against the White Sox last night. Cano is 3-for-7 vs. Peavy. My streak is at five, halfway to my season-high of 10.

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